Fastest Way to Get 60 College Credits [2024 Guide]

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If you’re looking for the fastest way to get 60 college credits, there may be a number of different options available to help you achieve this goal.

Fastest Way to Get 60 College Credits

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Taking accelerated online classes, receiving credit for work and life experiences, and earning credits by examination are a few methods that can help you earn your college degree in less time and with lower costs than the traditional route.

The Fastest Way to Get 60 College Credits

Fastest Way to Get 60 College Credits

There are several avenues that may help you advance your degree faster than normal. When taking advantage of all these options, some students are able to obtain close to 60 credit hours.

One option involves enrolling in accelerated online classes that offer a shorter semester length of only 8 weeks or less. This is even beneficial for many students who have 120 college credits but no degree.

You may also be able to test out of a number of college classes by passing examinations, such as CLEP, DSST, or institutional exams offered through many universities. This credit by examination option can be especially helpful for earning general education credits.

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It’s worth noting that all schools and programs are different, so while some schools allow a number of these alternative credit source options, others might not. You may want to check with your specific school to find out what alternative credit options they offer or accept.

Schools can also limit the number of credits that can come from alternative sources and contribute towards your degree.

1. Accelerated Online Classes

Accelerated Online Classes

Accelerated online classes are academic courses that can often be completed in 8 weeks instead of the usual 16 weeks of a traditional semester.

The following are some of the benefits of attending a program with shorter terms:

  • Shorter course lengths. With 8 week terms, you have the ability to complete entire courses in half the time of a regular 16 week semester class.
  • Finish more courses each year. If you take multiple classes at a time, you might finish more courses per year in an accelerated term than in a traditional length program, depending on course availability in your program and the frequency of enrollment dates.
  • Lighter course load. You’ll have the ability to take fewer courses at one time while still completing the same number of courses over the entire year. For example, you can took two courses at once every 8 weeks instead of taking four courses at the same time over 16 weeks.

In some cases, accelerated classes can have more frequent enrollment dates and can offer more flexible schedules.

2. Credit for Work and Life Experience

earning 60 college credits

When it comes to earning 60 college credits as fast as possible, demonstrating prior learning and earning college credit for life experience may help you complete your degree in less time.

Prior learning experience can be accrued through both formal and non-formal methods of learning. Examples of non-formal learning include developing skills and gaining new knowledge through various work or life experiences that are unrelated to spending time in a classroom.

Prior learning assessment criteria can vary depending on the school and program you choose to attend. Some examples, though, can include job training and certificates, professional licenses and credentials, military experience, or competency-based education.

Some schools require that you submit a prior learning portfolio that details your experiences and how they equate to college-level education.

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You may also be required to include various forms of documentation that support your experiences within your portfolio. These can include your resume, copies of certifications and transcripts, or descriptions of learning outcomes from your different experiences.

Before you start creating your portfolio or preparing for the prior learning assessment process, it is beneficial to first connect with your school’s registrar’s office. You want to ensure that you follow their specific procedures and portfolio instructions.

Following the submission of your portfolio, you might be required to participate in a number of supplemental processes or activities, such as writing exams to verify your knowledge or taking part in interviews or oral examinations.

Job Training and Certificates

Job Training and Certificates

If you have completed on-the-job training or earned certificates, then you can apply for your prior learning experience to count towards your college degree.

Professional Licenses and Credentials

If you have previously qualified for a professional license or credentials in a particular field, especially one that relates to your educational area of study, you may be eligible to use that experience towards a prior learning assessment.

Military Experience

Military Experience

Knowledge and skills gained through military training and experience may allow you to earn college credits faster through the prior learning assessment process.

Some schools are particularly geared towards those with previous military experience. These schools can also offer additional benefits, such as tuition relief, support programs, and access to tutoring.

Competency-Based Education

Competency-Based Education

Competency-based education is a more informal method of learning that focuses on the outcome of the learning experience rather than the structured time spent learning.

This method of learning fits well within the structure of prior learning assessments. You’ll typically  be tested or evaluated on your grasp of the content or ability to demonstrate your knowledge without being required to show a specific number of in-class hours to earn credits.

3. Take Exams for College Credit

Exams for College Credit

Credit by examination is an alternative credit accrual process that can help you earn credit hours without needing to complete classes.

There are a number of different testing options that may be available to you through this degree by examination approach. These test options can include CLEP, DSST, university challenge exams, and advanced placement exams.

The number of credit hours that can be earned for each type of examination varies by school. Generally speaking, schools that accept examination credits will allow at least 15 credit hours to be earned in this way. Some schools, though, allow 30 credits from examination.

Notably, over 2,900 schools honor CLEP credits, and in many cases, you may only be required to make a 50 on the examination in order to use it towards college credits.

College Level Examination Program (CLEP)

College Level Examination Program (CLEP)

The College-Level Examination Program offers 34 exams that cover introductory college-level course topics.

The process to take a CLEP exam is fairly straightforward, but you’ll want to start by ensuring that the school you’re interested in attending accepts CLEP and will award you credits for specific exams.

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Over 2,900 schools honor CLEP credits, and many schools only require that you make a 50 on an exam. The next step is to register and pay for the exam on the CLEP website and then schedule your testing date and location. Finally, after you prepare for your exam, you can take it.

DSST Credit

DSST Credit

Similar to CLEP, you may be able to earn DSST credits that can be used towards your college degree. To earn DSST credits, you take and pass an exam in an area of study required for your program. Examination subjects include business, humanities, math, science, and technology.

Prior to writing a DSST exam, you may want to verify that your program accepts DSST credits. It’s also helpful to verify the number of DSST credits that you can use towards your degree and to understand which exam topic is right for your current area of study.

More than 1,900 schools honor DSST credits. The next step in the process is to locate a testing center for your exam of choice and schedule your exam. It isn’t until you attend the testing center that you will register and pay for your examination.

University Challenge Exams

University Challenge Exams

University challenge exams are another option that can help you test out of college classes. These examinations are typically offered directly from the university or college you choose to attend for your degree.

The types of exams and topics covered can vary from school to school, so it is strategic to speak with the registrar’s office at your institution for more information about their specific offerings.

Advanced Placement (AP)

Advanced Placement exams

Advanced Placement exams are another credit by examination option that might work for you. This option is particularly geared towards high school students.

These college-level exams allow you to earn credits to help speed up the process of earning your postsecondary degree. AP courses and exams may be of particular value when it comes to fulfilling introductory level course requirements.

How Many Credits Is One Year of College?

One Year college credits

When attending a college program full-time with traditional 16 week semesters, you typically complete 30 credits per year, or 15 credits each semester. Some programs offer shorter semester lengths that are only 8 weeks long.

If you attend a program with shorter terms, test out of certain college classes, or obtain credits through a prior learning portfolio, you may be able to reduce the amount of time it will take for you to complete your college credit requirements.

Start Earning Your College Credits Now

Earning Your College Credits

If you find that you have a lot of credits but no degree, there are a number of methods available to try and help you get college credit quickly and efficiently.

Depending on your specific goals and life experiences, you may be able to earn college credits faster by leveraging your previous knowledge and experience through prior learning assessments or testing out of certain classes.

There are also many college programs also offer shorter semesters with higher frequency enrollment, allowing you to earn college credit hours faster than most. If you’re ready to start getting college credit, you can explore your options to take exams, submit a portfolio of prior experience, or enroll in accelerated courses at an accredited university.

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Brenda Pyzik
Brenda earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Waterloo, with a minor in legal studies. She obtained a graduate certificate in human resource management from Georgian College. Brenda’s focus is on employment, entrepreneurship, business, and training and development.